Caring for a baby with effects from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)

Caring for your baby with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) requires special attention to detect and manage problems that he or she may have. These problems can range from mild to severe, but may include:

  • Sensitivity to stimulation. Your baby may be very sensitive to touch, sounds, and light.1 Watch for things that may be overstimulating to your child. If your baby seems irritable and colicky, try to soothe him or her in a quiet, dark room. Avoid as much as possible taking your baby to places that are crowded and noisy. Don't buy clothes with tags or seams that could bother your baby's skin. Be aware that your baby may refuse to eat certain foods, may flinch at the slightest touch, and may not respond appropriately to hot or cold temperatures.
  • Sucking problems. Difficulty sucking can prevent your baby from getting the nutrition he or she needs to grow and develop. Feed your baby smaller amounts more often, maybe as often as every hour. If you bottle-feed your baby, use a nipple made for a premature infant.
  • Developmental problems. Talk with your health professional about milestones you should watch for and how to encourage the development of those skills. Encourage your baby's development by reading and talking to and playing with him or her often. Write down your baby's developmental achievements to help you and your doctor identify your baby's strengths and weaknesses.

Citations

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2006). Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: The basics. Available online: http://www.fasdcenter.samhsa.gov/educationTraining/fasdBasics.cfm.

Last Updated: March 17, 2009

Author: Debby Golonka, MPH

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & William Gilbert, MD - Perinatology

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